CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

“But I am Not Eloquent”

Jan 17, 2018

I often have Christians tell me that they are not able to do what I and some others do. They cannot get up and speak to a crowd, or write books and articles, or do public lobby work. And of course in one sense that is perfectly true: we are all different, and we have differing gifts and abilities given to us from God.

But we all need to speak up and speak out when and where needed. While everyone will not do media interviews or pen great treatises, we all must speak for our faith and for the vital issues of the day. Pretending we are unable is more a case of being unwilling.

In my daily reading this morning I came across a clear example of this. In Exodus 3 God had appeared to Moses at the burning bush and told him he would use Moses to deliver his people from the grip of Pharaoh. He even promised Moses that mighty signs would accompany him.

But Moses demured. As he famously said to God in Ex. 4:10: “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” But the Lord was not very thrilled with that response. As we read in verses 11-17:

The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. But take this staff in your hand so you can perform the signs with it.”

Moses had offered other questions/objections before this, and more were to follow. But when God calls someone, he equips them as well, so there are to be no excuses. As the old saying goes, God does not call the qualified, but he qualifies the called.

Peter Enns in his commentary on Exodus mentions some other Old Testament characters whom God had called and says this:

Some of these narratives seem to go out of their way to mention the mundane or ordinary vocation the leaders were engaged in at the time of their calling. A primary factor in God’s choice was not the individual’s résumé or experience. Rather, he calls people out of ordinary circumstances for extraordinary tasks.

We find similar things in the New Testament where we are told not to worry about our speaking abilities, etc. For example, in Luke 12:11-12 Jesus says this: “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

So it may be high time for many believers to stop making cheap excuses and to start speaking up when required. And this idea of God assisting us along the way does not absolve us of the responsibility to study and be properly prepared. We are to ‘study to show ourselves approved’ as Paul commanded.

No faithful pastor would get up in front of his congregation every Sunday without a scrap of sermon preparation. He of course prays for God’s utterance and Holy Ghost enabling and empowering, but he also carefully studies the text and does his proper spiritual and theological homework.

And I am not just speaking about preachers and pastors here. All believers can and should speak out when opportunities arise. Whether it is sharing our faith, or acting as salt and light, we need to break out of our silence and lethargy and start being vocal.

As but one practical example of this, right now submissions on religious freedom are being called for. We have a few more weeks to get in submissions to this government body: pmc.gov.au/domestic-policy/religious-freedom-review

As I have said often before, you need not put in a 30-page paper with 100 footnotes. Even a paragraph in which you state your concerns will suffice. The point is to let our voices be heard. And the critical thing here is not to fall into the trap of thinking, ‘Well, someone else can do it’.

No, YOU are the someone else. You should be doing something. A short submission into this inquiry is the least any Christian can do. Do not leave this for “the experts”. This is your chance to shine. Do not be like Moses and complain about not being eloquent. Just put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard.

When Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else,” recall that “the Lord’s anger burned against Moses.” You and I don’t want to be in that place. The time for making lousy excuses is over. Far too much is at stake. Our faith is under assault, millions are heading to a lost eternity, and our culture is crumbling all around us.

It is time to speak up. The days of silence are over. Indeed, silence is consent. If we are not taking a stand against the evil of our day, we are effectively siding with those destroying our culture and hamstringing our faith. And our God will not hold us guiltless if we do remain silent.

As God told the Apostle Paul in Acts 18:9-10: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you.” That is the key: God is with us, so we have absolutely no reason to remain silent. To refuse to speak is to disobey God.

Let me finish with a few stirring quotes from Christians and non-Christians alike. I hope they inspire you to break out of your ghetto of silence, and motivate you to start speaking out on the things that matter:

“What the world needs most is a voice that courageously speaks the truth, not when the world is right, but a voice that speaks the truth when the world is wrong.” Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

“Silence makes cowards out of the best of men” Abraham Lincoln

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” Edward Everett Hale

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel

“A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.” John Calvin

“Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” Edmund Burke

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Desmond Tutu

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King Jr

“Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.” Mahatma Gandhi

“It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what is required.” Winston Churchill

“At the final bar of judgment, when those of us who are Christians stand face to face with our Maker, the gravest charge that will be made against us will be that we were so unconcerned. We lived at a time and in an age when the very foundations of civilization were being shaken, when the very world in which we lived was rocking, when we witnessed things such as men have never seen before. We saw the spiritual and moral, as well as the political, declension all around us, and yet we did nothing about it. We were apathetic and unconcerned. We did not feel a great solicitude that would not allow us to rest by day or by night.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones

[1417 words]

17 Responses to “But I am Not Eloquent”

  • Thanks for the reminder Bill, I will make a submission. Any tips on what to include?

  • Thank you!

  • Thank you for your words of loving rebuke and encouragement, Bill.

  • Thanks so much! Convicted, indeed

  • Exactly Bill. I have been meaning to write in and urge as many as possible to write submissions. I have spent three weeks of my summer researching and writing and have recently sent in my submission. I have done this in spite of feeling some fear of repercussions for our safety. However, the more people who send in submissions the less we will all have to fear.
    Reasons to send in submissions:
    * There may be many submissions from the yes side. We need to counter these lies.
    * Everyone of us has a different view and experience. Just one view may swing the argument.
    * Short and sweet is OK. Write a paragraph, ask some questions (very powerful), get together with other like minded people and send a submission together (maybe give yourselves a title eg citizens for freedom).
    * You don’t need to fill a document with lots of facts and figures. Look at home many lies the SSM side has spouted and see what they have achieved. I am not advocating telling lies but a cry from the heart is OK.
    * To prevent overwhelm, give yourself a time limit and plan a reward for after you press the send button.
    * The name of this submission hides another lie. I have clearly argued that this is about freedom of speech not just freedom of religion, for example;
    – who defines religion?
    – whoever gives freedom can take it away.
    – is freedom a natural right or defined by our politicians?
    – the 2016 census report that 70% of Australians report a religious affiliation with 51% Christian – that’s a lot of people.
    – religious or any belief is not static. A freedom removed may not affect you today, but you may change your mind next week.
    – a religious belief or worldview affects every part of life, not just a marriage service.
    – the original meaning of secular was non-denominational Christianity, not no Christianity.
    – those who aim to take away freedom of speech are bullies.
    A push to reduce religious freedom equals an attack on the freedom of speech for all Australians. Only 1% of couples are same sex and many do not want SSM. What is the bigger agenda?
    Be brave! Tell your grandchildren you were courageous enough to stand up for their freedoms.

  • Thanks Gail. Great stuff and great points.

  • Thanks Bill,
    This is very timely and important.
    I have to work hard to get something good on paper.
    My verbal skills are not at all impressive, but sometimes, when God helps, it improves.
    I have already sent off my submission to the review.

    May I suggest among many other things that could be suggested, when writing a submission that you read the legislation first. If you can get something out of it, and if you can show that you understand it, then all the better. It may save you from saying something that does not apply. If you want to say something to the review that is not linked to the legislation, by all means tell them, but don’t link it.
    The legislation is here;
    https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2017A00129

    To lodge your submission, go to;
    https://pmc.gov.au/domestic-policy/religious-freedom-review
    and use the “online submission form” link.
    Note that the “online submission form” ignores all bolding, italics, and font size, and will most likely re-arrange your paragraphs.
    If you really want to use those tools, send in a paper submission.

    If you want to write more than half a page, then summarize your view in the first two small paragraphs, and then later explain in more detail what your concerns are and how they work.
    If you can crystalize your submission into a one liner, open with that.

    My lead paragraph was;
    The legality of SSM should be limited to permission, with conditions. The legislation should only say what I may do, and what I must do if I wish to have such a wedding. It should have nothing to do with what others must do, or what others must agree with. In particular, those who want SSM should find those who are willing to share in the celebration, to help them with the celebration.

  • Thank you Bill for this article and also for the challenge! Thank you to all those who have commented and offered advice. It is rather daunting when starting along the path of no longer remaining silent. I have on my heart 2 Chronicles 7:14 and I believe we should be praying constantly for Philip Ruddock, members of the panel and for Christians all over Australia to be awakened from their apathy and to stand with one voice.

  • Thank you for that check list Gail. Excellent. In Britain we also have our so -called submissions and public consultations. But up till now they have all been window dressing to give the illusion of “letting the people have a voice.” The only problem with this is that our submissions go in the waste paper basket and then new laws come in which are designed incrementally to take away freedom of speech.

    Governments will allow us to have our huff and puff and but meanwhile they are monitoring our performance in bending to the Equality and Diversity laws. If you arrive at job or apply for a university and your certificate of equality of diversity shows a poor or non – existent score, you will find yourself removed from the public space.. It is not freedom of speech or even conscience, it is the freedom to give expression to our beliefs that is the important thing.

    David Skinner UK

  • Gail, thank you again for your checklist but just to emphasise my point that the ability to speak in the public space is not enough, allow me to quote Peter Tatchell :

    “The other key means to secure the adoption of equal rights values is education. No child is born bigoted, though some become bigoted from the bad influences of adults and peers. Early and sustained equality education can help prevent that. To combat intolerance and bullying, education against all prejudice – including racism, misogyny, disablism, xenophobia, ageism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia – should be a stand-alone compulsory subject in every school. Equality and diversity lessons should start from the first year of primary level onwards, with no opt-outs for private or faith schools and no right for parents to withdraw their children.

    Classroom lessons in equality and diversity should promote the understanding and acceptance of Europe’s many different communities as well as the idea that the right to be different is a fundamental human right. These lessons should be subject to annual examination, ensuring that both pupils and teachers take these lessons seriously; otherwise they won’t. A pupil’s equality grades should be recorded and declared when applying for higher education and jobs, as it is in the interests of everyone to have universities and workplaces without prejudice. Bigotry harms people. It also saps morale and undermines individual and institutional efficiency.”

    One could say that no child is born bigoted but we can safely say that Peter Tatchell was born a liar and sinner of the blackest hue. Clearly to preserve our sovereign free will we will have to do more than be eloquent, for as we saw with Pharoah, the truth and reasoned debate only hardens the queers and their allies the useful idiots.

    http://www.petertatchellfoundation.org/beyond-equality-why-equal-rights-are-not-enough/
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2P7osnqe7vY
    (slide to 51 minutes 16 seconds)
    David Skinner, UK

  • Hi Bill,
    At this very busy time, I nearly missed this opportunity to make my voice be heard.
    It was only going through my emails religiously (ha, ha) I found it….
    Maybe want to post this Cultural Watch for ALL those who have been caught up in the holiday rush.
    Blessings,
    Melinda

    PS: I kept mine short & sweet – I know it’s not ‘at all eloquent’ but it’s inspired by the Holy Spirit, it’s from the heart & soul of a Christian Warrior, a loyal Australian & very concerned wife, parent (& hopefully – Grandparent one day).

    “As the Panel who shall examine and report on whether Australian law (Commonwealth, State and Territory) adequately protects the human right to freedom of religion, you have a ‘Duty of Care’ to represent ALL Australians & their moral/conscience convictions.

    When Religious Freedom is silenced so is Freedom of Speech.

    As a Nation to grow in strength & stature we must allow ALL voices to be heard (not silenced) even if they are not conducive to ‘published’ popular opinion.

    I trust you will promote & uphold human rights in The Freedom of Religion for ALL Australians.”

  • I agree Bill that far too many Christians fail to speak out when they should. Worse is that many are content to remain blissfully ignorant being unable to defend the Christian faith because they have intentionally not devoted time and effort to be able to become equipped to cogently respond to the usual objections that non-believers raise against God, His will and faith in His Son.

    All that said and done, it is sobering to have a closer look at Moses’ response to evil and injustice. In his own strength, he killed an Egyptian slave driver. God then patiently taught and discipled Moses in Midian for 40 years. He learnt about his own weaknesses and grew in his personal fellowship with the Lord. When God called him to proclaim His message, Moses’ was well educated and knowledgeable (having been educated as an elite by Pharoah). Moses’ refusal to allow God to use this gift was of course an excuse for his unbelief and disobedience. The staff that Yahweh gave to Moses became the means through which (staff) and through whom (Moses) Yahweh would display His power and judgement.

    However, Moses eventually repeated the same mistake at Meribah – when Yahweh commanded to speak to the rock, Moses chose to express his indignation and anger at His fellow unbelieving Israelites by wilfully striking the rock instead of obeying what Yahweh had instructed him to do. This so angered the Lord that Moses was denied passage into the Promise Land.

    The message is that God is extremely patient and longsuffering but He does not tolerate unbelief and disobedience amongst His people when they have been given ample opportunities to witness His power and have been blessed with personal fellowship with Himself. Walking in his own strength was Moses’ initial mistake when killed the Egyptian. God response was one of patience and grace – Moses was allowed to develop close fellowship with the Lord and he was transformed by the power of God into a leader who would lead His countrymen out of bondage into a land that was bountiful and abundant in God’s blessings.

    God was again gracious and did not punish Moses for his refusal to obey God and speak to Pharoah. Moses’ unbelief and disappointing failure to learn that it is God who equips and works was not met with judgement but with divine patience and forbearance. Many years later, Moses would again take the situation into his own hands and in His own strength, the staff which Yahweh gave to Moses as means of expressing Yahweh’s power and judgement would now become the means for Moses to express his own anger, frustration and judgement instead of God’s grace to those whingeing, hard-hearted Israelites.

    The lesson then is not that we should simply and automatically “speak up” in the name of our Lord, for Him or in His defense. The message is that it is essential we reflect and seek the Lord’s guidance rather than rushing head-on in our own strength – can you relate to this and have you been guilty of this? I have and it is something that we as Christians must be aware of and seek repentance.

    Either extreme is not pleasing to our Lord, unbelief and disobedience leading to refusal to allow Him to move us out of our comfort zone or unbelief and disobedience leading us to act in our own strength. The message is much more nuanced and requires close fellowship with the Lord, careful reflection and prayer. Our past experiences with God can never be one in which we seek to repeat God’s work as a formula for us act in our own strength.

  • David Skinners reply scares me. He assumes the state owns the child’s mind and that only a correct state controlled education is the answer. My truths run in this direction: – the state must never infringe on the parental prerogative (i.e. parents are the primary educator of their children and the state dare not interfere without the express permission of the parents). His version of education sounds very close to an indoctrination into group think that is becoming the norm of modern education. ‘Equality and diversity education’ means you are welcomed as ‘yourself’ except if you are ageist, racist, bigoted etc. No optout for faith reasons, no withdrawal by parents – this is all sounding like a giant state run re-education camp that no parent can escape from.

  • Thanks Con but you have misread David Skinner. He is fully against such statist education, and his second comment is mainly a quote from a militant homosexual activist.

  • Con Hughes, you have said more succinctly what I was trying to say. I was as Bill says quoting Peter Tatchell. It does well to read and listen to what the enemy is saying and what they are saying is becoming more extreme and unbelievable as each day passes. It takes time and effort to track demon-possessed characters like Tatchell. Most people have lives to live and consider people lie myself as obsessive. Well I suppose the allies were a tad obsessive when they fought Hitler . The war we are engaged in today has been going on for decades and instead of bombs and bullets they use ideology which is far more devastating.
    David Skinner UK

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